Bikes of The French Quarter and Marigny, New Orleans

Just some bikes.  I realized I had a lot of pictures of them, and thought I’d share some in their element.


Is it Safe to Drive a Bus?

Bus Drivers sustain more on the job injuries than any other workers.  They sustain 735 injuries per 10,000 workers according to Bureau of Labor Statistics as reported by Seth Fiegerman.  Not surprisingly, the Police are on the list, as are EMTs and Paramedics, but the police sustain only 603 injuries and EMTs/Paramedics 510 on the job injuries per 10,000 workers.  Surprisingly, it is more dangerous to be a Nurses Aide (4th most dangerous) than it is Corrections Officer (5th), or a Fire Fighter (6th).  And Garbage Collectors (7th) are more at risk than Truck Drivers (8th) , Laborers and Movers(9th) and Construction Workers (10th).

I was curious how this correlated with salaries, so I did a bit of research on  This is by no means scientific, and I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the statistics on that site, but it’s interesting.  The average salary for most of the jobs I searched ranged from $38,000 to 45,000, hardly rolling in money, especially for the most dangerous professions.  The average salary for the police and fire fighters also varies a great deal according to rank.  The cop walking the beat is keeping that figure low.  He’s by no means rolling in money.

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Michael Needs New Shoes

I love my Blackspot Shoes. I’ve had them a few years and they have held up remarkably well. They’re in good shape, but they are starting to rip around the seams. I happened to be noting that today when one of my favorite songs, “New Shoes” by Paolo Nutini, cycled through my iPhone playlist. I couldn’t resist throwing together this silly video.

New Shoes from Michael Toler on Vimeo.

Who went to Vidyartha College?

I never went to Vidyartha College, a Buddhist institution in Sri Lanka, not even as a visitor. No one I know has ever gone there, either. But according to my Facebook friends list, lots of my friends have. Apparently I am one of many who has been having trouble with this recently. There are a lot of questions in the help pages of Facebook but I don’t yet see any responses from Facebook. It’s also showing up in the blogosphere.

No solution or explanation yet, though. Anyone else having problems? More importantly, has anyone resolved them? If so, what did you do?

I’m Not Ignoring You, I Swear!

If you are a friend, family member or colleague who is reading this, and you are annoyed with or concerned about me because I have not responded to an email you sent at some point in the past month or so, please accept my apologies and don’t worry.

The spam filter I have installed on my computer, or rather HAD installed on my computer, seems to have gone berserk! I looked in the spam box today and found message from my colleagues, family and friends. It seems to have been totally arbitrary. This program, Intego Personal Antispam X5 for the record, has many of the standard filters. It can be configures to block mail from certain addresses, sent to certain addresses, on a blacklist of known spammers, on my personal blacklist, mail containing containing certain words, certain URLs, or displaying certain characteristics of spam.

But I had changed nothing in the configuration and yet it suddenly began filtering out mail from lists I subscribe to, colleagues who write me often, email reminders from iCal, etc. What confuses me is that is was selective. An email sent at 2:00 pm from my good friend might have reached me, but John Smith’s email sent at 3:05 might not have. What happened in that hour and five minutes?

Even more frustratingly, it let HUGE amounts of spam through, when it had been quite good at catching it before. Go figure! Anyway, it’s gone now and it I missed your message because it was marked as spam, I’ll probably find it now.

Anyway, Personal Antispam is disabled, so if I missed your message, hopefully I’d find it now.

Are liberals seceding from sanity?

Check out this paragraph from a piece I just read.

Blacks and Latinos, it appears, are allowed to hold conventionally conservative social views about gay rights, abortion and (in the case of blacks) immigration without being mocked and denounced by elite white liberals in the pages of the Washington Post and Mother Jones, as long as they vote for the Democratic Party on the basis of other issues. This strategic logic should lead liberals to seek out and welcome the vote of white social conservatives in the South and elsewhere, as long as they vote for Democrats for reasons other than the social issues. Indeed, socially conservative white voters helped to create and to maintain the new Democratic majority in Congress. But many liberals, it would appear, would rather have a smaller Democratic Party than one that includes more white Southerners with typically “black” or “Latino” views about sex and reproduction.

via Are liberals seceding from sanity? | Salon.

It’s a provocative but perceptive quote from a very interesting article on by Michael Lind.  If you want to know what he means by “black” or “Latino” views you have to read the article.  It’s worth it. Lind is spot on, however.  I find that a lot of New Englanders understand the American South only slightly better than many Moroccans I met understood what life was like in Europe. This is a sad state of affairs. 

The Wired Campus – Think You’re Happy? Song Lyrics May Have the Answer – The Chronicle of Higher Education

How can we track how happy we are? Just look at blogs and song lyrics, two professors say.

Peter S. Dodds and Christopher M. Danforth, a mathematician and a computer scientist from the University of Vermont, downloaded more than 230,000 songs composed since 1960, along with 2.3 million blog items posted to since August 2005, and State of the Union addresses. Using a nine-point “happiness” scale for words from the Affective Norms for English Words study, they looked for what sentences using the word “feel.”

Their results are reported this week in the Journal of Happiness Studies in an article titled “Measuring the Happiness of Large-Scale Written Expression: Songs, Blogs, and Presidents.”

And what the two scholars found certainly was interesting. The last U.S. presidential election produced the happiest day in four years. Among the least happy were the day of Michael Jackson’s death last month, the fifth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and the day before.

It is an intriguing study.

Mr. Danforth thinks data on happiness could help in the future. “A gross national happiness index could help design public policy and understand people’s reactions,” he says.

For their next project, the two professors are looking at people’s Twitter accounts, taking in 1,000 tweets per minute. Unlike blogs, which are typically daily reflections, tweets are constantly updated and can show people’s immediate feelings, Mr. Dodds says.

Read more at The Wired Campus

My Computer and War in Africa

It takes a lot of seimi-precious metal to make up the portable electronics devices we treat as throw away, and much of it comes from the more war torn corners of our planet. So this article from Time Magazine was food for thought.

When the film Blood Diamond came out in 2006, people were startled at the alleged origins of the precious stones from areas of bloody conflict and began asking whether the jewels on their fingers cost a human life. Will consumers soon find themselves asking similar questions about their cell phones and computers?

In a report released earlier this week, Global Witness claims that multinational companies are furthering a trade in minerals at the heart of the hi-tech industry that feeds the horrendous civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). (Global Witness is the same nongovernmental organization that helped expose the violence that plagues many of the sources of diamonds.) However, the accused companies, with varying degrees of hostility, deny any culpability, saying Global Witness oversimplifies a complex economic process in a chaotic geopolitial setting.

The provinces of North and South Kivu in the eastern DRC are filled with mines of cassiterite, wolframite, coltan and gold – minerals needed to manufacture everything from lightbulbs to laptops, from MP3 players to Playstations. Over the past 12 years of armed conflict in the region, control of these valuable natural resources has allegedly become a lucrative way for warring parties to purchase munitions and fund their fighting. The Global Witness report claims to have followed the supply chain of these minerals from warring parties to middlemen to international buyers.

Read more in the piece by Elizabeth Dias, on The Global Witness report, Faced with a Gun, What Can You Do? is also available online.